By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent
Workers who transport food, drink and duty free supplies to airlines at Heathrow airport are to stage a five-day strike in a row over new rotas.
Members of the Unite union employed by Alpha LSG will walk out from May 22.
The union said “punishing” new rotas had been imposed on the drivers, who voted by almost nine to one in favour of industrial action.
The company supplies a number of airlines including American Airlines, Air Canada, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Unite regional officer Jayesh Mistry said: “Alpha LSG at Heathrow has imposed a punishing new shift pattern on its drivers.
“The new rosters are taking a heavy toll on the workers’ well-being.
“The company are treating workers with contempt by trying to force them to work an extra 12 weekends a year.
“It’s an attack on family life and the drivers are fighting back.
“They are getting shorter rest breaks plus increased workloads are piling pressure on the workforce.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “Heathrow has plans in place to provide additional assistance to passengers who may be impacted by this strike between the airlines, their colleagues and contractors.
“We will be working with airlines to ensure adequate contingency plans are in place.”
A spokesman for Alpha LSG said: “New roster patterns are required to meet the operational needs of our current business and are based on flight schedules. We have been in discussions for over six months with local union representatives. We have held meetings with our drivers and taken on board comments about the work rosters, making alterations in line with some of the feed-back.”
“Unite has never previously raised concerns in respect of work-life balance to this work pattern, until it was introduced across our entire Heathrow operation. The rest breaks in our roster meet all the legal requirements.”
“We are immensely disappointed that Unite has escalated this with the unnecessary threat of strike action. We were in talks with Unite yesterday and continue our negotiations. However, from March 22nd to April 18th we wrote to Jayesh Mistry, Unite Regional Officer, on three separate occasions offering to meet and discuss a way forward but received no response.”
“We remain fully committed to resolving this issue and ensuring there will be no inconvenience to our customers at London-Heathrow. We are also fully committed to investing in its workforce.”
“Our business recently took the decision to step away from being a National Living Wage employer, which comes into effect in November 2019, and we are currently working on a number of initiatives to support health and well-being in the workplace.”